Goldberg takes as her main piece of evidence a new book by antifeminist activist Charlotte Hays called When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question. In the book, Hays mocks working class people for allegedly being fat, lazy, and poorly dressed. Oh, and she also apparently thinks poor folks who have diabetes are hee-larious. Classy!
Hay’s book has been well-reviewed by her fellow conservatives — and her book is hardly the only evidence of right-wing anti-populism out there. Charles Murray, so often a pioneering figure in making vile politics respectable, got there first with his book on “the state of white America” from a few years back. There’s also the popularity Fox News effete-snob-in-residence Stuart Varney. It’s notable, too, that to-the-manner-born Mitt Romney didn’t even try to orchestrate any of the fake populist media stunts — think George H.W. Bush with the pork rinds — that previous G.O.P. presidential candidates were sure to pull.
It’s been clear for a long time that the guys in charge of the conservative movement consider populism a necessary evil, and that effete snobs and “White Trash”, to use Hays’ term, have been able to live in conservative harmony for long periods. Consider the long-time co-existence of William F Buckley and the John Birch Society. Buckley hated the Birchers and they ultimately lost influence, but both the toffs and the trash were solidly behind Goldwater in ’64.
I can’t claim to understand this phenomenon completely, but at least part of the reason is that the would-be elite realize they need votes to keep their taxes low, so they never do anything that will separate their wing of the party from the proles they need to win elections. Another part of it is that conservatives have built a media machine almost completely focused on directing white rage away from targets inside the tent, and it works pretty well.
As for Romney in particular: His campaign was full of awkward, staged faux populism. The issue that “White Trash” conservatives had with him was that he had been a liberal, pro-abortion, pro-Obamacare governor, and all the corndogs in the world can’t change that.